Monday, August 31, 2009

Texas governor's list of music pioneers

I was doing some research tonight and found this list of music pioneers of Texas. It is worth a read. There are many links for various folks from the list. Enjoy.

Podcasts and listening in today's world

I don't know about you, but it seems to be harder and harder for me to be somewhere I can listen or watch something at an appointed time. Maybe I'm alone in that regard, but I don't think so.

Podcasts of favorite shows are saving my mind, allowing me to catch the shows any time I want to. I now hang an FM transmitter in my Prius' cigar lighter jack, wrap the external audio cord over the rear-view mirror (it is used as the antenna to communicate with the vehicle FM radio), and slap the plug into my Sansa 4 Gb e260 earphone jack. When I turn up the sound, it will let me travel for miles and miles that I have to go to get anywhere significant in Texas without getting sleepy or succumbing to highway hypnosis. Before I travel, I fill up a 2 Gb micro-SD card with podcasts.

While I sit here at my computer, I keep from getting in the way of other things I might want to use the sound card for by plugging the e260 into an inMotion player and listening to those same podcasts.

Some programs I like to catch are these:
Mountain Stage

Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour
[I just wish the emcee wouldn't talk so darned much.]

WHYY's Fresh Air
[Again, I just never seem to be in front of a radio at the right time.]

NPR All Songs Considered

NPR Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

And, since I'm an inveterate short-wave radio listener, I like things like
Radio Australia podcasts
[you can choose from the large selection of programs at]

BBC podcasts
[again, a huge choice at]

Deutsche Welle
[a smaller set in English from the main German broadcaster at],2144,1719252,00.html

As you can see from this small slice of the world's offerings, you can find enough audio to entertain you, even if you were a NYC cabbie doing 20 hours shifts for the rest of your (much shortened) life! This piece doesn't mention how to get these automatically sent to your machine. If there's interest, I can do another piece on that.

Comments welcomed.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Take Back the Beep" Campaign

Frustrated by the time it takes to access your cell recorded messages left by others? Well, then, this article may allow you to vent and possibly affect how the phone carriers are doing business in that regard. The author, NYTimes writer David Pogue, tells of the obscene profits generated by all of us waiting 15 seconds or more to gain access to our messages or leave messages on another's service. Check it out!

Comments welcomed.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Memory

I am an unabashed fan of photography. If you have time, PLEASE look at this one:
which comes from this wonderful spread from a photographer of note:

That photo was titled "A Memory, 1993". I could hardly take my eyes off of it when I saw it. It is to me the most striking image of the small collection.

And there seem to be more thumbnails than large photos. I am not sure why that is so.

[Originally gleaned from NPR Radio Pictures blog]

Comments welcomed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cardboard "Frisbee"-like device

Well, Frisbee is is NOT. But this project from Make:/Instructables is cool looking. Maybe you would like to make one? The link shows how to do so.

Comments welcomed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

HAM: Spacesuit satellite answers YOUR call

Ham radio enthusiasts will go to just about any length to extend their reach into space at a little-or-no-cost boost out there. The latest thing is to have a satellite that grabs and repeats ham radio transmissions INSIDE discarded spacesuits tossed out from the International Space Station to eventually burn up in Earth's atmosphere. You can see an article on such satellites HERE. The next one is scheduled during 2010.

If you are interested in becoming a ham operator, information is available HERE. This month, I'm celebrating 49 years of being licensed in the service, so am offering a hand to YOU to join in the fun. It is a never-ending kaleidoscope of directions to go and think and do, helping others and learning new things. There are always folks to lend a hand in ham endeavors, far and near.

Comments always welcome.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

ART: Typewriter ribbon tins

Another mind-boggling art form that I'd forgotten existed. I recall now seeing some of these back during my very first days of noticing things about typewriters. This series of photographs is stunning for the most part. To think of companies putting such design art effort into something as mundane as containers for single typewriter ribbons! Worth a view: here.

Comments welcome.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Morse Code practice

At a garage sale across the street today, I picked up a Midland model 25-109 Morse Code practice oscillator (not the one in the photo). It wasn't the pristine device I first imagined from its exterior. The wife RATTLED it loudly and asked if it were supposed to sound like that. I told her it wasn't and hurried off to run some errands. While we were at the grocery, I took the opportunity to whip out my Swiss Army knife and see what made it rattle.

Ouch! As I supposed it was, the previous owner had left the two C cells in their holder to rattle around inside the case. It was the most crud and corruption I'd ever seen come out of two cells, equaling about three tablespoons of corroded mess to be dumped. Most of the aluminum holder had dissolved away at one end, leaving the solder lug to dangle loosely. The cells had holes in them and had gotten rid of any gel or liquid they could during their long years of being abandoned.

But, the single transistor, two potentiometers, audio transformer, speaker, slide switch, pilot lamp, terminal strips, and 3.5 mm earphone jack are all in pretty good shape for having been exposed to such corrosive mess for many years. I may have to replace the two-screw-terminal key connection, if the screws are in too bad a shape to allow future connections. Otherwise, I think liberal application of water and 91% alcohol with Q-Tips will fix it right up. And I will need some new battery holder or other to replace the old one.

Morse Code is well worth your while to learn. You never know when a post-apocalyptic world will require you to communicate in that fashion!

Comments always welcome.

Crabs don't throw stones

The really fine dance of art and science with the natural world has just made another leap. I saw this wonderful image shown above and an accompanying article & video which show how it was done and for what reason. It is worth a visit, I think.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Pail of Air

I got into a discussion recently with a friend, who asked what I thought would happen if the Earth were snagged by a rogue wanderer, captured from our calm orbit and pulled out into the cosmos of dark and death. Immediately, my thoughts ran directly to the story "A Pail of Air" by Fritz Leiber, which was indelibly etched on my brain from when I read it during my grade school years. You can see the book cover above, from the paperback collection of his stories that contained the piece.

In this link from Wikipedia, you can find links to the text of the story and to the radio dramatization audio file from the old "X Minus One" series from NBC Radio.